When Marvin drove his giant flatbed truck into town, he was drinking a case of beer every day and nursing a $300 per week cocaine habit. Nothing was going well. The voice in his head was what bothered him the most, a voice that kept telling him that he had to get right with God.
“There were so many things going on inside of me,” he says. “I’d been drinking since seventh grade, and now I had dizzy spells and anxiety attacks, and was eating horribly. And a voice kept insisting that I get right with God.”
“If it’s so important to me, then why don’t I get it?” Marvin kept asking the voice.
* * *
He was 30 years old when he just couldn’t go any further. He stopped, looked up, and said: “I can’t live my life like this anymore, God. You’ve got to do something. You’ve got to do something different in my life. I can’t go on like this.”
That day’s mail included an invitation to a Seventh-day Adventist evangelistic series. He read the brochure and thought that maybe God was offering a way out of his mess.
A dream woke him up that night. In the dream he was singing “Amazing Grace” with many other people, singing with all his heart. He knew the beginning, but the people were on the second verse and he didn’t know the words! Marvin woke up panicked.
“I wanted to sing,” he says. “I so wanted to sing, but I did not know the words!”
Marvin went to the Adventist church and sat on the left-hand side, five rows back. The first night the evangelist had everyone sing “Amazing Grace.” Just the first verse. The second night they sang it again. On the third night the evangelist led the group through all four stanzas, with all the words up on the screen.
“We were all singing, and on the second verse I was singing as I had wanted to sing in the dream. ’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved; how precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed!”
Marvin sang through all the verses and then sat back in the pew as a small voice spoke into his head. “Keep coming back,” the voice said. “There’s more. Keep coming back.”
Marvin didn’t miss any of the meetings, and at the end he was baptized.
“I had a new life now, a reason to live better. Different. As though I belonged to God.”
* * *
Marvin knew a lot of things would need to change. He quit drinking and dropped the drugs. He began to read the Bible and learn more and more about living as a Christian. To keep track of all he was learning, he needed to organize it in files, so he bought a filing cabinet and a bunch of manila file folders with dividers. Then he added colored file folders to make it easy to find the different topics.
“Then I decided I needed to buy several sets of sticky labels to put on the folders. That way I would be doing this like a professional. Right?”
He went to the office store, bought some pens and paper, but forgot the sticky labels. Four or five times he did this, always forgetting the most important thing on the shopping list.
“I was so frustrated and angry with myself, certain that I was a terrible failure, that I shouted at God about it. I told Him, ‘These labels are important to me, so they must be important to You, because I’m important to You. I don’t know how You’re going to provide them or where they’re coming from, but I know You’re going to provide them for me.’ So there. I’m not going to go looking for them anymore.”
A week or two later Marvin was in his truck, sitting at the side of the road doing paperwork on a delivery he had just completed, when a large service truck came squealing around the corner. As it spun by, one of the side doors opened and some stuff flew out onto the sidewalk.
“I ran out to flag them down, but as fast as they had come, they were gone. I didn’t even see the name on the side of the truck. When I looked down at what had fallen out, it was a box of sticky labels for file folders. I could almost hear angels rejoicing as I picked up their gift.”
“Why would God care about sticky labels?” I asked Marvin.
“Here’s what I know about that,” he told me. “There is nothing too small for God to care about it. God knows it all and wants to talk with us about even our smallest ‘sticky label’ problems.”
Imagine this: God cares so much that He’ll take time out of His day to find a truck, put the sticky labels near the door, and have the driver drive too fast when he’s going around Marvin’s corner. He wants us to know He hears even the smallest prayer. Even more, He wants people, groups of people, many people, to tell Him their needs and ask Him to be actively involved with even the simplest parts of their lives. He wants us to know He is ready for us to ask.
* * *
In 2007 Marvin and his Seventh-day Adventist wife, Lynda, were thinking about having children, a very big decision they had been sharing with God several times each day, asking for wisdom. About that time their old car died, and they bought a new Honda. When they picked it up at the dealership, the salesman told them that they should go right on over to the Department of Motor Vehicles a couple blocks away and get a new license plate. “No need to wait three months for it to come in the mail,” he said. Marvin went over, gave the clerk his paperwork, and waited for her to hand him his new license plates.
“You’re sure lucky,” she said as she handed him the plates. Several people in line also noticed the number on the plates. It was “515•DAD.”
“Glad those are yours,” one man said. “I already have three kids. Hope it’s a boy!”
Marvin’s and Lynda’s son was born nine months later, on May 15.
It seems as though God keeps using strange ways to speak to Marvin. Such as the evening he and his 3-year-old son, Billy, were walking together. Suddenly Billy stopped, looked up, and said, “Daddy, Jesus is coming soon.”
“That kind of blew me away,” says Marvin. “I cried because his certainty made me think about my life, my family, and Jesus’ return. It was like a huge reminder that some things are much more important than others. A knock on the head to tell me to spend more time with God. It’s funny how God goes to so much trouble to catch us wandering sinners and lead us home.”